There comes a morning where I convince myself that I can’t possibly go into labour whilst we still have the old sofa. All morning, I blink back tears whenever I think about it – how old it is, how battered, how the shiny blackness of the material adds nothing to the aesthetic of our living room. I think about how much worse labour will be when I am staring at that sofa, and how on edge I will feel when the midwives sit down on it. A colleague asks how I am and my woes spill out of me in a ranting, miserable stream. “I wish,” I tell her, “that I could buy a new one. Right now. A rainbow sofa.”
“Ours has rainbow buttons,” she says, and sends me a link.
It is beautiful.
I order it in the lift on my way back from collecting my boss’s lunch, and it is with us in five days. We mount the prints on the walls, install a generous collection of house plants, including one from my mother that is taller than the girls, and the house begins to feel like a home. My mother visits, with my little sister, and they make all of the noises of approval that I craved as a child with unbrushed hair and no sense of how to fit in. They admire my sofa – my new sofa – and my children flock to them like little bees to flowers and bury themselves against their skin.
But I don’t go into labour.
“I am SO BORED,” declares Lysander, “of living in this house with Mummy Work’s new sofa!”. So I decide to buy a cover for it, so that I can stop anxiously inspecting them for stickiness every time they want to sit down, but we still don’t let them jump like monkeys on the new sofa. They invent a game where I sit on the sofa and hold my birth ball in place with my legs, and they bounce like little monkeys.
We buy fairy lights, and I sit on my birth ball like a queen on a throne whilst Kirsty stands on a chair to wrap them around picture frames and the curtain rail. “This,” I tell her, looking around our beautiful new room, “is the kindest thing that you have ever done for me. One of the kindest things.”
She finishes the blanket. It seems amazing to me that whilst I have been gestating, she has put together a whole blanket from pieces of sheep. Kirsty spreads it out across the bed to show me, and I stroke it with a careful finger; when I imagine our baby wrapped in her mama’s blanket, my heart feels ready to burst. “You can come out now,” I tell the kicking, squirming thing inside of me. “You have a blanket to keep you warm.”
And it doesn’t.
39+4, and I attend the christening of my boss’s little girl. It is a beautiful affair, for which many people have flown from different corners of the world. The baby is all soft curls and big smiles, wearing her mother’s pearls, and the family look as happy as I have ever known them. I close my eyes and listen to the harpist play, and think about how happy I am, and how fortunate I feel, to be standing in this church to witness the many small pieces of my hard work come together in this beautiful celebration of a little girl whom is loved so fiercely. And I tell myself that I am ready now, that all of my projects are ticked off now. We can have a baby.
I half-expect my waters to go in the night. But they don’t. And I console myself with chocolate at my desk in the office because if you can’t stuff your face like a hamster at thirty-nine weeks pregnant, when can you?
Slowly, slowly, things begin to change.
The baby drops, to become an infuriating hiccuping thing on my hipbone. Suddenly a ‘good night’s sleep’ becomes a thing of the past, as the baby burrows its head against the cushion of my bladder. It is a funny little night owl, sleepy just long enough to make me worry in the day, but as soon as it hears Kirsty’s voice in the evenings it springs into being, dancing for its mama. She makes me laugh by giving it motivational pep talks, pointing out where to find the exit. We promise it warm milk and cuddles if it will only be born, and gradually our promises become more outlandish – a spoonful of Nutella, a palomino pony, a little sailboat of one’s own.
And I am the moon again, a gravid thing. It is my due date and the moon is full tonight, and I am full.
And there is nothing left to do but wait for you, and hope that you won’t keep us waiting too long.
We are ready. We are ready for you.